by Hope Holland
A long time ago, people used to go looking in the Sunday papers for their horses. Now that many states have local horse magazines there are printed ads for horses in them and, of course, there are ads on the internet. It seems that every farm has a website which might mention that there are horses for sale.
The Strain Family Horse Farm in Granby, CT, also has a website: www.strainfamilyhorsefarm.com and they don’t hint about having horses for sale. Selling horses is their business. Each of the Strain brothers has his own farm within a relatively short distance of the other and handle very different aspects of the horse business.
The Strain Family Horse Farm sells horses to private buyers and it makes a number of sales to the riding academies for teaching mounts. Selling horses to private buyers can admittedly be a very dicey business. There are people who want a certain color or a certain breed or a certain size horse and fail to take into account far more important factors of the purchase.
According to Dave Strain of the Family Horse Farm what people may need in a horse can come in any color, several breeds and often many different sizes. There is also the not-so-small matter of adjusting the temperament of the horse to the abilities of the rider.
“We serve a lot of riders,” Dave Strain said in the course of a telephone call. “Most of the riders who come here are somewhere in the middle level of riders. Then we have about 10 percent of the riders on the inexperienced level and another 10 percent on the very experienced level. That leaves about 80 percent of the riders between those two ends and that covers a lot of ground.”
Dave said, “When I bring home a group of horses the first thing that we do is to ride them and see what they have to offer us in their way of going, attitude and willingness. We don’t just ride them in the ring either. We take them out on the trails and see if they will go alone or in company and whether they will cross water easily. We see what they can offer to a rider and that is the way that we advertise them, western, English and whether they can jump well or not.”
“What a rider thinks that they want and what they will be happy with can be very different,” he went on to say. “And that is why we offer a three week trial for every horse that we sell. The buyers can take them home and try them out and, if they don’t suit them, they can bring them back and trade them in on a different horse. This can go on several times until they are suited.”
Dave Strain is on the road with a large and rather impressive tractor trailer horse rig pretty much all year long, traveling over 100,000 miles a year. He spends most of his time east of the Mississippi River from Ohio to Kentucky but does get down to Texas sometimes. There are certain sales he makes an effort to get to but he says that holidays and family celebrations are definitely important and not to be missed, even for a busy horse business.
At home, his wife Kristina holds down the fort and takes care of the very important internet side of the Strain Family Horse Farm’s business. If you visit their website you will see the horses that are for sale with not only still pictures and descriptions but also two to three minute videos of each horse in action.
Dave’s mother is still active in the horse business as well and rides every day. His father passed away recently but he himself was a man to be reckoned with in the horse business, having set the wheels in motion for the wide-flung horse buying and selling practice that Dave continues.
Dave’s brother, Bill Strain, owns The Strain Family Equestrian Center, LLC with his wife Christina. Their farm in Southwick, MA can be checked online as well, at www.strainfamilyequestrian.com . At their farm Bill and Christina Strain concentrate on boarding and training, as well as riding lessons with accomplished instructors who are able to teach all disciplines from basic hunter seat through jumping to dressage and even western horsemanship. They offer a summer horse program and an in-house horse show. The property is extensive with two barns and all the accoutrements expected — wash racks, heated viewing rooms and all of the other expected appurtenances of a busy teaching/training stable.
In addition Christina Strain runs a Therapeutic Horseback Riding program at the farm. Information about adding a rider to the program can be found on the Strain Family Equestrian website as well as the standard request for volunteers that are constantly needed to operate such a program.
In short, both sides of this family are completely horse oriented and fully involved in this business. Both Bill and Dave Strain are very proud that they have kept the “horse faith” that was started by their grandfather who came here to America from Ireland to teach polo — at Yale.
From Ireland to America, a dynasty built on horses
by Hope Holland